A review copy of Champions of Hara and Champions of Hara: Chaos on Hara were provided by Greenbrier Games. We would like to thank Greenbrier Games for supporting our blog. All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.
I have a confession to make. I’m a sucker for really good game art. As a matter of fact, it can either make or break a game for me, and one more than one occasion has been the deciding factor in whether or not I back a Kickstarter or not. To me the art is an extension of the game, it needs to feel natural, as if the game were built around it and flows from it. Corny, I know, but hey, we all have our things.
Right from the start I was attracted to Champions of Hara for just this reason. The artwork seems to just pop right off the box cover. One of the artists that worked on Champions of Hara is Stephen Gibson, whom I never run short of good things to say (if you don’t believe me, check our my review of Grimslingers). Champions of Hara, developed by Leaf Pile Media, is published by Greenbrier Games, designed by Walter Barber, Ian VanNest and Andrew Zimmerman, with beautiful artwork provided by the aforementioned Stephen Gibson, Hannah Kennedy, and Jason Piperberg. Hara plays up to four players and can be played anywhere from half an hour to two hours depending on the number of players and which game mode you choose to play.
Champions of Hara can be played in a versus mode, a cooperative mode, or even through scenarios. The scenarios is where this game truly shines for me as a solo player. Each of the playable characters, there are six in the base game with an additional four added in the expansion, has their own unique deck of cards that plays different from all the others. Getting to know each of the characters strengths, weaknesses, and play style has been a lot of fun for me.
A typical game plays through a series of steps. The first step is the Dawn phase, where the player draws a card from the World Deck on each of the six worlds. The card will be either an event or a monster. Monsters are played face up, while events are played face down, each placed on the numbered space that corresponds to the current day. From there each player may take their turn. Players are allowed to take three actions, actions are usually spent on playing cards from either their hand or the board. In a unique twist, cards that are played from your hand are then rotated 180 degrees and placed on the board. This card now has a different effect that will be triggered when played from the board. Cards that are played from the board are then rotated 180 degrees and returned to your hand, thereby changing that effect as well. Cards go back and forth from the players hand to the board with the abilities constantly changing. Playing the right cards at the right time are key to success in Champions of Hara. After cards have been played all monsters within range of the player will attack, this ends the current players turn. Once a player has taken their turn if there is a Corrupted (bad guy) on the board they will take their turn, if not the next player will go, continuing until all players have taken their turns.
The next step is the dusk phase. Cards are drawn from the dusk deck equal to the number of players plus 1. These cards are spawned via the roll of the dice. One die will decide which world, the other which space it will occupy on that world. Players will then take another turn, as outlined above. Once all players and monsters have taken their turns a new day will begin. A new day requires the players to draw from the World Shift deck. This deck is aptly named as it will literally shift the board around causing the players to move the world tiles, switching them around, and causing great chaos. Play continues on, following these steps, until the day determined by the scenario has been reached. At that time a winner is declared, also outlined by the chosen scenario.
Gameplay is further enhanced by collecting items and colored mana from the defeated monsters. Colored mana is tracked on the player board, when certain thresholds are reach the player levels up in that color and can add a new card of that type to their hand. This offers more choices in the game. Some of these cards add a lot of value to your hand, getting them early enough in the game can make a huge difference! Event cards often add a way to get more mana as well. Different items can be useful, or just okay, and can be pretty easy to come by. Closing rifts that open on the board can also be a nice way to get useful items, regain health, or energy.
I have to admit that I have been playing Champions of Hara for quite a bit, wanting to make sure that I got the full flavor of the game before I told you all about it. As a solo game I have had a great time. My biggest complaint is that I want more. Unfortunately the solo scenarios are limited to one for each of the characters. That makes 6 solo scenarios in the base game. I played them all, and loved each one. The scenarios are as unique as the characters themselves, some are serious, such as saving one character from the clutches of a Corrupted. Others are more silly, trying to throw a huge party on all the worlds before time runs out. They all challenge their respective characters in different ways, and are tailored for each of them as well. The scenarios are challenging, and offer replayability in that respect, but I want more. I would love to see a supplemental booklet or PDF that offers more solo scenarios.
As a multiplayer game there are much more options. There is almost endless gameplay, and many more scenarios to play through as well. The storylines were interesting and ones that I enjoyed following.
Let’s talk bit and pieces. Champions of Hara is well done. I have already gushed about the feast of the eyes, but there’s so much more than that. The game includes miniatures of the characters and the Corrupted. These minis are very well done and help to add to the overall effect of the game. The player boards are sturdy, and I love the cutouts for the little counter cubes. There are plenty of cardboard chits of varying sizes and abilities. There are a ton of cards too. Many are oddly shaped, which makes shuffling an adventure, but luckily shuffling is kept to a minimum. The world tiles were very well done, and hold up well to the moving around cause by the World Shift Cards.
The expansion, Chaos on Hara, also adds more characters, Corrupted, and some interesting new cards to add to your decks. The instruction booklet adds a nice Game Flow chart on the back too. I’m hoping future printings of the base game will include this really handy tool as well. I love how Chaos on Hara gives a subtle nod to Grimslingers with the inclusion of The Witch King as a character. I’ll admit, I geeked out a bit over that.
Overall I think Champions of Hara is a great game. There are plenty of unique bits to make this game really stand out for me. I love the card system, and the choices that it causes you to make. It can be mind breaking trying to decide when to place a card down and when to pick it up. I love the deck building aspect that the leveling up adds to the game. Moving the board all around via the World Shift Deck can be so frustrating, moving all across the world only to have the space you need move back where you just came from, ugh!!! Did I mention the art? I loved checking out the new monsters as they entered the board for the first time. All of the colors really pop on the game, and each monster is unique and fun.
I am really excited about what the future might hold for Champions of Hara, and can only hope that Greenbrier Games hears my pleas for more solo options. C’mon guys, please??? Overall I recommend you give this game a try. Although the solo scenarios might be my one complaint, but they do take some time to play through. Multiplayer is definitely fun, and I can recommend that as well. Give it a look, you might surprise yourself!